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The term " drone " refers first and foremost to a target aircraft. An automated aerodyne and the associated implementation system are also called "UAVs" (for " Unmanned Aerial Vehicle " or "air vehicle without human on board") and more and more often "UAS" (for " Unmanned Aircraft System"). " Or" aircraft system (s) without human (s) on board ").
The organization of the International Civil Aviation has meanwhile retained the name "PSAR" (for " Remotely Piloted Aircraft System " or "aircraft system controlled remotely").
The use of the word "drone" to describe a vehicle or robot land, surface or submarine, with autonomy, is a French particularity. The US classification of self-contained, man-made mobile aircraft in UAV / UAS (air), USV / USS (surface), UUV / UUS (submarines), UGV / UGS (land robots) is the most commonly used in the world .
The term "drone systems" tends to predominate because the drone is part of a system that is composed of:
one or more air vectors equipped with detection sensors (with possible intruder detection systems in "uncertain environment" );
The family of military drones is subdivided into subcategories according to their speed, their range and their functions:
the micro- and mini-drones , generally not autonomous, but often act as "remote binoculars" 6 , for example to watch over an obstacle or a danger zone;
Advances in computing and technology have made some drones target- designation platforms or weapons . They also serve the collection of information and in the electronic warfare (including for jamming or interception of communications) 6 . Their missions are then the ISR (Intelligence, Surveillance and Recognition ) or the ISTAR (for " Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Recognition ").
Their civil applications include controls on traffic, the maritime surveillance 11 and environmental air search operations and rescue, the collection of data of interest weather or difficult environment (area CBRN risk - "nuclear, radiological, bacteriological and chemical "- for example), the relay of information, the taking of aerial photographs or even the direct acquisition of photogrammetric data ...
Some are technological demonstrators that validate at lower cost, thanks to downscaling and therefore the amount of materials needed, aerodynamic formulas or certain equipment, without risking the life of a test pilot . They also make it possible to reach the limits of an aircraft, surpassing those that could support a pilot (+9 g / -3 g maximum), in order to confirm its solidity.
Their size varies from a few centimeters to several tens of meters (nearly 40 meters span for a Global Hawk ). Their shapes also, like their types of propulsion : some are equipped with reactors , others propellers , when others use rotors , like helicopters (sometimes called UAR, for " Unmanned aerial rotorcraft " ). "Terrestrial drones" are also used, particularly for the inspection of vehicles or an environment at risk.
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